Football notebook: UNC right tackle battle nears end; two NCSU players don't practice

From staff reportsAugust 16, 2013 

UNC hoping to name starter at right tackle after scrimmage

North Carolina’s right tackle position has been perhaps the most contested on the team throughout the preseason, but the competition is nearing an end. Chris Kapilovic, the Tar Heels’ offensive line coach, is hopeful that he can name a starter after UNC’s scrimmage on Saturday.

Three players – Kiaro Holts, Jon Heck and John Ferranto – have been competing for the starting job. All three have received work with the first team offense, and all three at one time or another have made a case to be the starter. But nobody has seized the position – at least not yet. Kapilovic is hoping that comes during the scrimmage.

“Somebody’s got to show a spark (on Saturday) that says I want the job and you need me on the field to be good,” Kapilovic said.

Holts, a sophomore who was a highly-recruited prospect, entered the preseason the favorite to win the job but injuries have hindered his development. Heck, a redshirt freshman, had “locked down” the starting position until missing some practice time recently, Kapilovic said. And Ferranto, a redshirt freshman, has remained competitive.

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora doesn’t want the competition to last until the days before the team’s season opener on Aug. 29 at South Carolina.

“I hope not,” Fedora said. “It better not be. I would say when we come out of that scrimmage (on Saturday), I’m hoping that (Kapilovic) going to have an idea of what he wants to do.”

Andrew Carter

N.C. State’s Smith, Payton held out of practice

Veteran receivers Rashard Smith and Quintin Payton were held out of Friday’s scrimmage at Carter-Finley Stadium as a precaution.

“Rashard is just beat up and we kind of know what he is and I don’t need to put him out there and get him hurt,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said.

Smith, a senior, caught five touchdowns last season and was the Wolfpack’s best receiver in spring practice. He is expected to have an expanded role in Doeren’s version of the spread offense.

Payton, also a senior, led the team with 798 receiving yards last season. He finished 2012 with 51 catches and two touchdowns.

“Quintin pulled a muscle and it’s just taking awhile to heal,” Doeren said. “They’re saying he’ll be back for Game 1.”

Doeren did not release statistics from Friday’s scrimmage but again praised freshman running back Matt Dayes. He also singled out freshmen receivers Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Jumichael Ramos for their work in Smith and Payton’s absence.

Joe Giglio

Braxton adjusting again for Duke

Brandon Braxton started at receiver with Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney in Friday’s scrimmage. Braxton, a senior, started 15 games in two years at receiver before he moved to safety last season. With a void to fill in Connor Vernon and Desmond Scott’s absence, Braxton moved back to the offensive side of the ball.

The transition has picked up for Braxton after a slow start in training camp.

“I had to relearn all the plays,” Braxton said. “My mind only works on one thing, so it was like restarting again, but I picked it up pretty fast.”

It doesn’t hurt that he has natural chemistry with quarterback Anthony Boone and tight end Braxton Deaver, his two roommates. All three hail from the Charlotte area.

With the return of Braxton and Deaver, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, the Blue Devils are reworking their depth at receiver. Sophomore Max McCaffrey, redshirt freshman Anthony Nash and true freshmen Ryan Smith and Johnell Barnes are competing for significant playing time, as is David Reeves, last year’s starter at tight end.

Boone finished the scrimmage 5 of 11 for 93 yards with one touchdown, a 37-yarder to Crowder.

Laura Keeley

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